Wednesday, 20 August 2008


  • Johan Pottas van die Rekenaarsentrum, Universiteit van die Vrystaat het onlangs op 'n paar poslyste geskryf:
Net om julle almal weer te daaraan te herinner dat 'n mens amper nooit genoeg rugsteun kopieë kan hê nie. Ek het gisteraand my eksterne hardeskyf verloor. Dit het uitgebrand.

Ek was besig om 'n rugsteun van sowat 4 000 foto's wat ek die dag op hom afgelaai het, te maak toe dit besluit genoeg is genoeg.

Die enigste probleem is dat die foto's net op dié skyf was toe ek besig was om dit te rugsteun toe dit oppak. Ek hoop nou dat die tegniese ouens die data kan herwin anders is ek sowat 'n week se harde werk van foto's neem verlore. Dan sal ek alles weer moet oordoen.

Dus, probeer om altyd 'n rugsteun kopie so gou moontlik te doen van enige belangrike of tydsame werk wat jy berg.

It took one sentence to send a shiver down my spine: "The book she was writing was lost in the fire."

The lady, who had lost everything when a forest fire consumed her home, would have to start writing the first draft again. Then I asked myself, was I prepared if my home was destroyed by fire, flood or other disaster?

Unfortunately, the answer was no. The important information on my computer was backed-up on CD's, but those were stored by my desk. If the house goes, so do they. All the genealogy information gathered in the past 25 years would be gone. Family members have pieces of my family tree, but the most complete up-to-date copy can only be found at one location: my home.

No one can predict when disaster strikes, but we can prepare ourselves just in case. I thought I was prepared, but in reality, I am only prepared if the computer crashes. When I realized this, ideas of how I could become 'loss of home' prepared, began rolling through my mind.

  • I thought about storing the information in a 'storage bank' on the Internet. I could post the information on a public website or I could create a personal website where access was limited with passwords. This might work for some individuals, but I didn't want personal information on those still living posted to the Internet. Also, it would take time to create the pages. This was not something that everyone wanted to do nor could do. My second idea was better.
  • The first step was to create an up-to-date copy of my family tree on CD. I would only need two, one for data files and another for digital images of old photographs and documents. Another option was to store the information on a memory stick.Once the files were backed up, I needed a place outside the home to store them.
  • My first thought was with a family member. Then I re-evaluate this idea. Everyone does not value genealogy information as much as I do, so I wondered about the CD's getting misplaced or thrown out (by mistake, of course).The other downside was if I updated the files every six months, I would need to retrieve the original CD and store the new one. Again, this might be fine for some, but if that family member lived a great distance, it might be a hassle. The more convenient, the more likely I would take the time to update the original material.
  • Then I thought about a safety deposit box. Even the smallest ones are large enough for CD's and memory sticks. There were several advantages to this plan. Not only would the material be in a safe place and never get lost, it would be in a nearby location I frequently visited anyway. Furthermore, if something happened to me, the contents of the safety deposit box would be given to my heir.

No one wants to imagine the loss of their home, but being prepared makes such a loss more bearable.

Where is your genealogy?

In the basement in card board boxes? In the garage in card board boxes? Or loose papers on shelves or stuffed into the drawers of discarded bureaus and chests? Or lying in old trunks stacked in the corner of the utility shed?

On your computer hard drive? Or stored on discontinued and obsolete floppies?

Organized and tidy on the shelves and in file cabinets in your genealogy room or corner?

This is a wake-up call for us all.

If your genealogy is digital, purchase a handful of memory sticks. Transfer multiple copies of your files to them. Send them to your family members. Different towns, different venues in those towns. And if you are a woman, whose surname changes each time you marry, be sure at least one copy goes to a male of your ancestral surname – who can be tracked.

If your genealogy is online. Circulate pin and password to family members, so your hard work can be retrieved. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to get access to password-protected data? Takes weeks of documentation that you have a right to access the stuff. If you are gone, your work may be locked up tight!

If your genealogy is still in paper files, copy them. And send a copy somewhere else where it will not be subject to the same risks your originals are.

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